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100+ Children Among 338 Killed in Aleppo Attacks This Week, W.H.O. Says

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100+ Children Among 338 Killed in Aleppo Attacks This Week, W.H.O. Says

Groups allied with the Syrian government pressed an assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Friday, as the World Health Organization said heavy bombardment of the area by Russia and Syria had killed 338 people in the last week, including more than 100 children.

 

 

With more of the city’s already limited hospitals destroyed in the latest offensive, Dr. Richard Brennan, the organization’s director of emergency response, told reporters that many of the 846 people wounded were expected to die for lack of treatment. That includes 261 children, he said.

 

International monitoring groups have accused Russia and Syria of bombing civilian targets, like hospitals, schools and basic infrastructure, without regard to the safety of the civilian population of 250,000 in eastern Aleppo. On Friday, the rebels said the government bombed the main water plant that supplies the area.

 

 

Militias have been backed by a Russian air campaign that has “hit civilian areas and increasingly used indiscriminate weapons, including cluster and incendiary munitions,” Britain’s special representative to Syria, Gareth Bayley, said in a statement Friday. Others have accused Russia of using bunker buster bombs meant for military targets, while the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has called the attacks “barbarism.”

 

Russia has defended its actions as necessary to thwart terrorists, and its foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, told the BBC on Friday that Russian forces were not using “any munition which is prohibited by the United Nations.”

 

Mr. Lavrov said that Russia was taking “all necessary precautions” not to hit civilians, and that “If this happens, then we are very sorry.”

 

Abu Anas, the nom de guerre of a former opposition fighter who joined the Nusra Front, which now calls itself the Levant Conquest Front, said Friday that the brutal attacks were actually helping their cause by radicalizing the population.

 

Friday was the first anniversary of Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, an occasion that prompted a number of reports on civilian casualties in Russian airstrikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, put the figure at 3,189, while the independent website Airwars has said that at least 3,000 have died.

 

Until a few days ago, eastern Aleppo had eight working hospitals, but its two biggest medical centers came under attack this week and were no longer functioning, said Dr. Brennan of the W.H.O.

 

Four children died from their wounds in the last few days, Dr. Brennan said, because of a shortage of space in intensive care units.

 

As of two days ago, the United Nations believed that there were 35 doctors struggling to keep up with the flow of casualties but Dr. Brennan said it now believed that there were only 30. “These guys are exhausted, they are drained physically and emotionally,” he said.

 

The United Nations has drawn up plans for evacuations and identified hospitals in northern Syria that could receive the wounded. But those plans have been held in abeyance because of the intense fighting, the absence of assurances of safe passage and the lack of a green light from the government.

 

A convoy of trucks carrying aid to besieged Syrians was attacked on Sept. 19, killing about 20 people, and preventing food, blankets and clothing from reaching people in rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

 

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, announced Friday that he would establish a board of inquiry to investigate the attack on the convoy. United Nations officials have said the attack could be a war crime.

 

The United Nations has medicines and medical equipment in position and ready to move to besieged Syrians in east Aleppo, Dr. Brennan said Friday, but the aid cannot get into the city.

 

“We are asking for four things: stop the killing, stop attacks on health care, let the sick and wounded out, and let the aid in,” Dr. Brennan said, describing conditions in the city as “beyond unimaginable.”

 

Source: Over 100 Children Among 338 Killed in Aleppo Attacks This Week, W.H.O. Says – The New York Times

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